new mum and babyAlmost half of mothers (47%) surveyed by Netmums said they were not told within 24 hours of giving birth about the crucial signs and symptoms of potentially life-threatening conditions for them and their newborn.

Furthermore, only a quarter (24%) of mothers recalled receiving information about what signs and symptoms to look for might be a danger to them and their baby.

Likewise, midwives told the RCM that they were equally frustrated with not having enough time to spend with mothers and babies after giving birth or provide care to a standard they were pleased with. Over a third (36%) of midwives and maternity support workers said that they would like to be able to do more for mothers and babies. 

Midwives were asked about the factor determining the decision about the number of postnatal visits women had. Only 24% of midwives said this was determined by the women's needs, while an overwhelming two-thirds, or 65%, said this was determined by a hospital's "organisational" pressures. 

These worrying statistics are part of the Royal College of Midwives' second report for its Pressure Points campaign, which examines whether maternity teams have the time to provide the postnatal care and vital advice that mothers, babies and families, need want and deserve.

The Royal College of Midwives' Chief Executive Cathy Warwick said: "It is clear that our members are taking the strain of an underfunded and under resourced postnatal service. A service that without sufficient means can lead to harmful consequences on the health of mothers and children that the maternity team struggle to care for."

Within the first 24-hours after the birth, a mother should be advised of the signs and symptoms of potentially life-threatening conditions both to herself and her baby, such as a racing pulse, which can be a sign of excess bleeding. She should understand what to look for and when to call the emergency services. The majority of maternal deaths in the UK happen after the birth, so addressing concerns around postnatal care is of paramount importance.

Professor Warwick said: "We fear that financial belt-tightening and the shortage of midwives, particularly in England, means women leaving maternity units too early and being short-changed when it comes to postnatal visits.

"Midwives want to give better postnatal care, but they can't because there aren't enough midwives and they don't have the resources that they need to give women the care that they need and deserve."